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Date of last update: 8/21/2017.

Forum Name: Rheumatology Topics

Question: bulging disc C6/numbness of left arm/burning sensation

 tkrivanek - Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:07 am

I am a 33 year old female. I have been diagnosed with a bulging disc at C6 that is impeding on the left root nerve and slightly into my spinal cord. This was caused by a rear end car accident on April 4th of this year. I had "whiplash" as well. A possible concussion, an MRI was done on both brain and neck which revealed the bulging disc and possible concussion though I was told it was an old injury. The MRI also shown that C2&C3 are fused into one, presumed congenital fusion.

a short medical history which pertains to the neck and brain...

at age 4 I was struck by a car on the left side of my head resulting in a broken jaw and an unknown brain injury. I know that I was unconscious for 3 days I do not know the full details. I also received over 1300 stitches in cosmetic reconstruction to the left side of my mouth and chin Was diagnosed with dyslexia after the accident.

at age 16 was taken to emergency room for muscle spasm on the left side of my neck and back. Was put on skulaxin for a year.

at age 22 I had a mild Seizure and syncope while in line skating. I saw a neurologist after EEG he found a slight aura in the brain. An MRI was done to rule out a tumor as the cause the MRI was "normal" I was not diagnosed with epilepsy and was not prescribed anticonvulsant medications

at age 24 started seeing a chiropractor because of migraines and pain in my neck and shoulders. the fused vertebra were discovered at this time but no cause, I though it would have been from the first car accident, was told differently by the chiropractor

The rest of my medical history includes at least 3 other surgeries, 1 non-surgical hospitalization for 1 week with influenza, bronchitis, and another illness I do not recall it's name.

The Current injury:

I was first seen at the hospital right after the accident was given diagnosis of cervical sprain and released with pain meds and ibuprofen.

I then after the intense pain over the weekend went to see my chiropractor, whom has been the sole care provider of my current injuries. He has not referred me to anyone else. I'm not sure I have been given a full prognosis as I feel he doesn't want to influence my recovery. He has put me on home neck traction with an inflatable device which I use for 20 mins then icing the area for 20 mins. I sometimes take ibuprofen but am reluctant to take it more than once a day because it upsets my stomach when I am on it for too long. I often ask my mother who is a BSN and also has a neck fusion at c6 and c7 how she deals with her injury [her neck was broken in a car accident]. I try not to burden her with too many questions but most of her answers lead me to believe there really isn't much else I can do.

Moving into the 4th month after this current accident I am feeling a lot of numbness, tingling and burning in the left side of my face and ear, neck and arm and hand. I feel the sensations in my arm on the topside of the arm not the underside. The burning is currently radiating out of my neck where the injury is located. The more active I am the worse it gets, driving makes it worse because I have to use my left arm more and look to the left to change lanes.

I have trouble lifting more than 40lbs at the gym [I used to lift 70lbs in lat pul and row machine prior to the accident], if I go over 40 my hands both right and left go numb, my grip is not what it used to be in both right and left worse in the left.

Everything I read online tells me that any symptoms lasting after 6 weeks equals need for surgery. Though I feel most of these sites are pitching a surgery for profit. I do not want another surgery. My mother's surgeries left her with numbness and some pain. I've read and talked about steroid shots to reduce the swelling, but only as a temporary fix.

My questions:

Can I expect this to improve with what I am doing or do I need to see an MD?

Are there any homeopathic remedies [non-surgical] that I can utilze that might relieve the numbness, tingling and weakenss in my arms?

If I leave things as they are are there any long term effects I need to be concerned or aware of like nerve damage in my arm?

If I need to see a specialist which one?

What questions should I be asking of the chiropractor and or an MD?

I am assuming at this point I am looking at a permanent injury. I just want to find some relief and a prospect of less rather than more discomfort. Any ideas answers or suggestions are greatly appriciated. I do understand that this is for advice only not diagnosis and treatment. I need some direction to be sure I am getting the full picture of treatments that are available to me.

Thank you very much,
 Debbie Miller, RN - Thu Aug 02, 2007 6:38 pm

User avatar This must be very frustrating for you. I will give a few suggestions here.

When it comes to taking ibuprofen, you are correct that it can cause stomach trouble. But, when you take a dose that is too low to do any good, you are exposing yourself to the stomach upset without getting the benefit of the drug. If you want it to work, you need to get it in the therapeutic range.

An alternative to this might be another anti-inflammatory such as diclofenac sodium (Voltaren) that is available by prescription but which may cause less stomach irritation.

You could also try alternative medicine such as acupuncture. Many people are finding this to be helpful for chronic pain and some insurance companies are even starting to cover it.

Steroids are an option and if you don't find relief with one or two they would not pursue that line of treatment anyway because it is not recommended repeatedly. But, it is possible that a couple of these could help.

There are also specialized physical therapists who sometimes have success even when others have not. You would have to ask your doctor if he/she knows anyone like this. It's all about experience and specialization. Some are better than others for particular problems.

Chronic pain clinics also can sometimes help in cases such as yours. You may try calling a local hospital to inquire about whether or not there is something like that in your area.

Doctors to consider would be orthopedists, neurologists and rheumatologists I would think, along with any who specialize in chronic pain issues. I would definitely investigate some of these options. Good luck.

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